Thursday, August 18, 2022

13th Age 2e: More Info

As I promised in the first installment, here’s a look at the final five bullet points on the list of “Here’s (some of) what’s coming in 2e”. People interested in joining the public playtest in six or eight weeks can write me at and I'll ping back when I've added you to the list.

More flexible handling of kin/ancestry powers: We’re not using the term ‘race’ in 13th Age 2e. I should have listened to Jonathan when he suggested we skip the word back in 2012. Some games have moved toward speaking of ancestry. That works. We’re trying ‘kin’ in our current playtest document.

Unlike in the 1e core book we’re providing two or three possible ‘hero powers’ for each kin, giving players the opportunity to make their character less cookie-cutter—if your group has two high elves in it they’ll have more interesting choices than who uses their teleport power that round.

We’re also making it clear that you can tell the story of your character by mixing ability score bonuses and hero powers that don’t usually go together. The manuscript’s current note looks like this:

Customizing your kin: Thanks to the fact that character classes provide a choice of two ability scores, it’s generally possible to play a pretty-good character of any class, no matter what kin you’re playing. But given that you’re also coming up with your character’s backgrounds, and a One Unique Thing, there are compelling story options for most any character to use the ability scores and hero power of any kin they choose.

Are you the only human adopted by the Dwarf King? Maybe you look like a human but say That’s Your Best Shot? like a dwarf (page XX). Are you a silver folk rogue who teleports in a silver flash and calls your power silverspark teleport?

You can mix and match kin looks, outlooks, ability scores, and powers as you like. Leverage backgrounds and uniques if you wish, or let your character’s story evolve during play.

As part of adding choices for everyone, hero powers that weren’t that great have been improved or replaced with better options . . . and yes, Elven Grace has been nerfed. My players will no longer torment me with all-wood-elf parties. Pre-playtesting, Elven Grace looks like this:

Elven Grace (Hero Power)

At the start of each of your turns, roll 1d6 to see if you get an extra standard action. If your roll is equal to or lower than the escalation die, you get an extra standard action that turn. You then stop rolling for Elven Grace until you've taken a quick rest. Alternatively, you can pass on the extra action and keep rolling each turn.

Champion Feat: Once per day, roll a d4 for elven grace instead of a d6. If you don’t get an extra action, this daily option is not expended.

Scarier monsters and cooler treasures: We’re not changing monster math, but we are adding nastier specials where they belong and rethinking some of the large and huge monsters that made it hard to design interesting encounters at high levels.

Digging into the math, we realized that some of the treasures PCs have been using don’t keep up at epic tier, or come all that close to keeping up. So… cooler treasures? Yes, with math that shouldn’t be a problem to apply to previously published treasures.

By the way, I should mention that all the benefits that 2e PCs are enjoying aren’t being balanced by changes in monster math . . . but we are changing the recommendations for how tough battles should be for experienced players, and testing methods of doing that without increasing combat length.

More banter, better advice: We understand the game a lot better. A lot of the advice we gave nine/ten years ago turned out to be only half-right (or worse). So, we’re writing advice we are sure will be useful, and arguing about real things instead of talking hypothetically about campaigns none of you had gotten around to running yet!

New and better take on the fighter: If you like the original fighter, you can keep playing them—but you’re probably going to love the new fighter. For now I’ll just say that most of the fighter talents stayed, maneuvers turned into things you choose to do instead of deciding everything after your attack roll, and the fighter has a talent that encourages them to maintain a balance of offensive and (somewhat) defensive maneuvers. Also: I adapted good stuff from the Humakti class in 13th Age Glorantha!

New cover from Lee Moyer & Aaron McConnell: Not just a cover, but also new art, they’re both extremely excited to show the results of their level-ups since 2013.

As are we. More soon.

13th Age 2e: The Same Core Team

Several people have wondered whether Jonathan Tweet is working on the 2nd Edition of the 13th Age core book. The answer is yes. The 13th Age core book was a collaboration between Jonathan and me, teaming up to create the game we wanted to play together, with Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell providing the art. The same core team is creating 13th Age 2e. For the final manuscript we’ll bring in the game’s current line editor, a new sensitivity reader, and a new layout artist.

Why? Because I can’t create a credible revision of 13th Age without Jonathan. He and I don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but we share a vision for this game, we have synergistic skills, and we’ve been talking for years about how to make 13th Age better—qualities that can’t be replicated with another designer. Pelgrane has long wanted to publish a 2nd edition of the game, and the community has been asking for one for even longer. I told Pelgrane that I couldn’t do it without Jonathan—either it would be a collaboration between me and him, or 13th Age 1e would be the only edition. Pelgrane and I knew that without a second edition, 13th Age would stagnate and the game would wither away; so they agreed to publish the new edition with the original creative team.

Beyond the core book, I will continue to run the line of supporting products without Jonathan—an arrangement that suits both Jonathan and Pelgrane. After his contribution to the manuscript is finished Jonathan will start work on a new children’s book to follow up on Grandmother Fish. I’ll move on to finishing Icon Followers (up to 128K words at present), one of the 13th Age books that will follow up on 2nd Edition.

Unlike the first time we created this game, we’re working pretty quickly. We’ve already run several playtests and plan a full playtest packet for wide distribution in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Announcing 13th Age 2nd Edition

Yes, we’re making a 2nd Edition of 13th Age! And yes, that’s present tense: work has already begun, and you can sign up to playtest the new edition by writing me at

The image you see here is a slightly edited version of the playtest flyer we handed out at GenCon, revealing more of the updates we’re making to the game. Today I’ll say a few words about the first four items in the list and talk about the remaining items in a future post.

Backwards compatible: I love it when new editions let players use all the books they’ve already bought and the ideas they’ve created in their campaigns. We’re not interested in making you buy new versions of the Bestiaries or do frustrating conversion work to use previously published adventures. There’s going to be an appendix in 2e suggesting things like “You could use the new default bonus for the magic belts in Book of Loot and Loot Harder since we’ve changed that in 2e,” but the core math and the combat rules will be the same. You won’t need to re-buy books, not even 13 True Ways. If there’s a 13TW class or two that needs brushing, I’ll handle that in another book focused on character classes.

Better options for class talents, powers, and spells: As originally published, some classes have a lot of great choices for talents and spells, while other classes have a few great choices and a significant number of meh choices. One of the biggest goals of 2e is to give every character more interesting choices. Spells that sounded fun but turned out to be not-so-good have been improved. Talents that didn’t measure up have been downgraded into class feats. Feats that were originally epic feats now frequently appear as adventurer-tier feats, with champion-tier and epic-tier feats above them that truly feel epic instead of like small math-bumps.

Each class gets +2 additional pages: Classes like the ranger and paladin that were always quite simple now have talent options that can make them more interesting for experienced players. Classes like the sorcerer get more spells with a greater range of effect. Most of the classes are getting quite a bit more than 2 pages; so far it’s only the rogue that hasn’t grown beyond that.

Improved icon relationships: Thanks to feedback from GMs over the years we’re aware that our original icon relationship rules weren’t as clear or simple as we hoped. Ask five 13th Age tables that are happy with the icon rules which method they’re using and you’ll get four different answers! We’re working to suggest icon relationship rules that more tables will find natural to use in play.

Other talking points: I’ll post about the remaining five bullet points soon. I’ve also been seeing speculation and questions about who is working on this book, and whether that team will work on the line going forward. I’m writing a separate post about that to hopefully clarify things.

We expect to send out the first widely distributed playtest packet sometime in September or October, and like the flyer says, you can write us at any time before then if you’re interested.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Games I've Got at GenCon & Scheduled Panels

I'll be seeing some of you at GenCon in the next few days!

Mostly I'll be at the Pelgrane booth, booth #423, talking with people about the news for what's coming for 13th Age, and the wonderful Drakkenhall book that's out at this show:

Here are some panels I'll be involved in for Pelgrane or with Pelgranistas. . . .

Friday August 5th, 12:00-1:00 p.m. [Hyatt Studio 1] Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff. Robin has to stay in Toronto, so Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and I are joining Ken to talk about roleplaying, conspiracies, writing, and conspiracies about roleplaying writing.

Saturday August 6th, 4:00-5:30 p.m. [The Stadium: Meeting Room 8] Swords, Spies, & Shoggoths: The Pelgrane Press Panel. There are a lot of fun projects surfacing soon that I didn't know about until the pre-con planning session, so I know panel attendees will be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, August 7, 11:00 a.m.-12 noon. [Hyatt Studio 1] 13th Age Monster Workshop. Attend the panel and make suggestions. Or heckle. Our rogues gallery of 13th Age designers and developers and a publisher will spin the suggestions into a publishable baddie. I slated this madness for Sunday since it tends to leave us punch drunk.

Other fun.... All con long, Dara Studios at Booth 2400 will be running demos of the Storybook Brawl board game I wrote about last week. I'll be there when I can, or you can ask me about the game when you find me nearer Pelgrane.

And Wiz-Kids at booth 1715 will have copies of Three-Dragon Ante: Giants War to show off, but I don't believe they'll have enough copies to have them on sale. It was close, so that means the game should be out in retail soon.